THE FIGHT AGAINST FLOODING
Harris County voters approve a $2.5 billion bond referendum in August 2018 to fund roughly 237 projects countywide.
For projects that are not completely funded by local money, funding partners are identied.
Challenge No. 1: Obtaining federal funding Many of the ood projects laid out in the bond plan rely on federal dollars, which could potentially require additional environmental studies for approval.
Ocials with the Harris County Flood Control District identify projects that can move forward immediately and develop a rough timeline for the rest.
A B OND P RO J EC T ’ S L I F E C YC L E
Every ood mitigation project is unique, but each project goes through a similar process before construction begins. Several factors can challenge how fast a project progresses.
complete bond projects in half. “We did complete a very in-depth investigation about the feasibility of completing the entire bond program in ve years, and … that study revealed that under perfect circumstances … we can complete the bond program [in] probably closer to nine years,” Zeve said. As pressure from the public con- tinues to build with every impending hurricane season, Zeve said HCFCD is working to complete projects as e- ciently as possible while overcoming stang shortages and external chal- lenges that can lead to delays. Project progress Since Hurricane Harvey, HCFCD has acquired 80 properties in the Cypress Creek watershed, in addition to three tracts of land for ood plain preserva- tion, 10 tracts of land for stormwater detention basins and 105 empty tracts of land that were platted for houses, Zeve said. As of mid-December, the district was also in the pro- cess of acquiring 60 additional
While Zeve said he could not com- ment on the precise locations of buy- out areas of interest, he noted there were several in the Spring and Klein area, including potential stormwater detention sites near Cypress Creek and Stuebner Airline Road. Likewise, Jill Boullion, executive director of the Bayou Land Conser- vancy, a nonprot that works to pre- serve land in the Greater Houston area, said her organization was also in talks with landowners in the Cypress Creek watershed regarding land acquisition for ood plain preservation. While Boullion said she could not disclose any details on these eorts, she hoped she would be able to announce some acquisitions once they had been nal- ized in 2020. On thehorizon While HCFCD already has several local projects under construction— including a $2.8 million project to address erosion on Spring Gully—Zeve said several more will begin in 2020, including a $60 million bond-funded project that will provide major mainte- nance along Cypress Creek. According to Zeve, the project will address erosion and remove sediment along the channel to ensure it func- tions at its maximum capacity. The project is slated to go out for bid in Jan- uary, and constructionwill likely begin three months thereafter, wrapping up by spring 2021. “The ood control district, in the past, hasn’t had the funding to do all of the maintenance of all of our infra- structure,” Zeve said. “So we actually put this on the bond program because Cypress Creek has such a large backlog of maintenance that we wanted to use this as an opportunity to address that.” Additionally, Zeve said a contract was just awarded for a $2.2 million bond project that will perform main- tenance and restore channel capacity on Pillot Gully, which runs through The Vintage area. Construction on that project is expected to begin this spring.
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In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey saturated the Texas Gulf Coast, caus- ing Cypress Creek to pour out of its banks and ood roughly 11,000 homes in Precinct 4 in addition to numerous businesses, churches and other com- munity resources. Nearly 30 months later, residents of Spring and Klein are anxious to nd ood relief in the com- ing year. “We have over 250 active construc- tion sites right now, andwe’ll have that many, if not more, in 2020,” Zeve said. “We have a lot of construction that will begin in 2020 in the Cypress Creek watershed. We had our biggest spend- ing year in history—approximately $300 million [in 2019]—and we look to do even more in 2020, possibly even doubling that.” Despite this progress, Zeve said even in ideal conditions the district’s eorts will not be enough to meet a request made by elected ocials earlier this year to cut the 10-year timeline to
The county embarks on a feasibility study , which involves meeting with stakeholders and determining project components.
“[Spring and Klein residents] can also look forward to seeing some activ- ity on the southeast corner of TC Jester and Cypresswood Drive [in 2020],” Zeve said. “The ood control district already owns this [land], and we plan to get started on the rst steps to build a detention basin at that location.” In addition to projects in the upper Cypress Creek watershed that will take shape in 2020, another project the HCFCD will see results from this year is the update to the 2003 Texas Water Development Board’s Regional Drain- age Plan and Environmental Inves- tigation for Major Tributaries in the Cypress Creek Watershed. According to Zeve, the update will help HCFCD pinpoint areas where sta should be acquiring right of way before they can begin on the next phase of bond projects. The update should be released to the public in February. Outside of the bond, the Bayou Land Conservancy board approved its 20-year Strategic Conservation Plan in November. Boullion said the plan identied 26,500 acres of high-quality land in the Cypress Creek watershed that would be desirable for future ood plain preservation—about 10% of the total acreage in the watershed. “Our goal is to double our conserva- tion acres. So we could go from where we are now, at about 14,000 [acres], up to 20,000-30,000 [acres] in the next 20 years,” Boullion said. “So it’s a big goal. … It would be a really positive impact because it’s all ood plain preserva- tion, [which means] ood mitigation, drought resilience, improved water quality and connected green spaces.” Boullion said the organization will spend much of 2020 speaking to the community about how it can support
properties and 48 tracts of land in the Cypress Creek water-
There are several projects either under construction or planned for future construction in Spring and Klein. I N THE C YPRES S CREEK WATER SHED SOURCE: HARRIS COUNTY FLOOD CONTROL DISTRICT COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER Active HCFCD projects Maintenance and storm repair projects
shed. In total, HCFCD had prop- erty rights for over 10,278 acres in the Cypress Creek water- shed at that time. “Unfortunately, a lot of the Cypress Creek watershed was developed before we had a rmunderstand- ing of wherewe should and shouldn’t build safely,” he said. “But what’s done is done, so now, we’re work- ing to solve some of those problems through buyouts.”
Capital and bond funded projects
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